Australia

Hospitalisations rise in WA as new COVID cases drop

Eleven COVID-related deaths were reported on Saturday as the number of new infections dipped to 5538.

Hospitalisations continued to rise – reaching 252 – although the number of COVID patients receiving treatment in intensive care fell from 11 to eight.

The number of new cases in WA has now fallen for two consecutive days, although the number of reported infections has tended to decline over weekends before picking up again mid-week.

There is growing concern nationally about a resurgence in COVID cases that has been blamed on the emergence of the BA4 and BA5 Omicron sub-variants, which transmit even faster than previous mutations of the virus.

WA Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson has previously warned that BA4 and 5 were now the dominant strains in WA, which has contributed to a pick-up in daily cases over recent weeks.

The State’s active caseload hit 33,139 on Saturday – up from a low of 26,579 on June 28, at which point infections had been decreasing steadily for more than a fortnight.

Camera IconHospitalisations have increased, despite a drop in new cases. Credit: Kelsey Reid/The West Australian

Hospitalisations have also been trending upwards over the same period, climbing from 217 to 252 since the start of the month.

Growth in cases across the country prompted updated advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation earlier this week to allow anyone over the aged of 30 to receive a fourth COVID jab from Monday.

Previously only Australians aged 65 and over and those with underlying health conditions were permitted to receive a second “winter booster”.

ATAGI has now recommended anyone over 50 receive a fourth dose and that over 30s also be given access to the jab, despite the benefit for that age group being “less certain”.

“The number of people ill from respiratory virus infections, including from COVID-19, has increased over the past few months, placing an increased strain on the Australian healthcare system, particularly hospitals,” ATAGI said in a statement.

“A surge in cases of COVID-19 from the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BA4 and BA5 subvariants is a contributing factor and is expected to worsen in the coming months.

“Increasing the uptake of winter booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine in populations most at risk during this time is anticipated to play a limited, but important role in reducing the risk from COVID-19 to individuals and pressure on the healthcare system.”

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